COVID-19 hospital surge further taxes health care providers

Published 11:22 am Wednesday, December 1, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS — The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 has surged above 1,500 in Minnesota, causing further strains on those working to care for them.

Monday’s 1,532 coronavirus hospitalizations included 343 people in intensive care. Hospitals are trying to reduce non-COVID-19 admissions by delaying some non-emergency surgeries, officials said.

The record 1,864 coronavirus hospitalizations in Nov. 29, 2020 combined with non-COVID cases to fill 6,991 inpatient beds. That is 7% lower than the hospital bed usage in Minnesota now, the Star Tribune reported.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Minnesota ranks 22nd among the states with about 73% of people 5 and older receiving a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, but that leaves more than 1.4 million eligible people unvaccinated.

Health care officials urged Minnesotans to reduce their risks by getting vaccinated and taking other protective measures.

Health care workers represented by SEIU Healthcare Minnesota said Tuesday that the pandemic has driven some caregivers out of the profession which has only made the bed shortages worse.

Supportive care such as helping patients get to the bathroom and shower is being neglected because patient numbers exceed staff availability, said Emilee Greskowiak, a nursing assistant at United Hospital in St. Paul.

“I have 25 patients on a unit as the only aide, and we are short nurses,” she said. “Basically, all I can do is empty trashes and let nurses know when people are drowning — having codes … and struggling to survive through their traumas.”